Using the right sized dumbbells during a strength-training exercise can be the difference between making progress or becoming injured. Picking the right weight also makes it easier to do the exercise effectively. Although you might want to lift heavier weights to get faster results, you should approach this and all exercises with safety in mind.
The dumbbell shrug strengthens the trapezius muscles that run through your neck, shoulders and the center of your upper back. These muscles are used when you shrug or perform overhead movements. Strengthening these muscles can help prevent neck and back pain after a long day of work or strenuous activity.
The proper form for this exercise is very similar to when you shrug in a conversation. Stand upright while holding a dumbbell in each hand with your back straight and your abdominal muscles tightened. Maintaining a strong core during weightlifting exercises helps to prevent back strain. You can turn your palms inward toward your body, forward or backward. Shrug your shoulders upward as high as you can, focusing on squeezing your upper traps, and lower back down.
According to Jessica Matthews of ACE Fitness, you should use a weight that fatigues your muscles within 90 seconds. This means you could use a light weight and perform up to 15 repetitions or use a heavier weight that you can only perform six repetitions with. Muscle fatigue occurs when you have exhausted the muscle and would not be able to complete any more repetitions with proper form.
The weight you use when you start doing shrugs will not be the weight you always use. During strength training your muscles adapt to the challenge of moving weight by growing and becoming stronger. As your muscles grow, the exercise will become easier and you will need to increase the weight you use. Without increasing the weight, you will hit a plateau and stop seeing results in your program. If your muscles do not fatigue within 90 seconds, increase the weight by five or 10 pounds.
Ashley Farley has been a certified personal trainer since 2008. She is also a writer specializing in healthy living, fitness and nutrition topics. Farley has an Associate of Science in mental health services from the Community College of the Air Force and is pursuing her B.A. in English at Wright State University.